After four close encounters between the Los Angeles Clippers and the Dallas Mavericks, the favorite finally found a split on Tuesday. The Clippers absolutely decimated the Mavericks, 154-111 taking the lead 3-2 in the series. More importantly, they put many of their struggling players back on track. Paul George and Montrezl Harrell combined for 56 points, and the team as a whole scored 22 from 3 points not only to take the lead in the series, but to send a statement to the underdog Mavericks that, despite the series so far, these teams they are not even close.
The Mavericks, meanwhile, must return to the drawing board after one of the worst defeats of the season. Nothing worked in defense in Game 5. The attack fought almost as much. They now have two days to find a counter. If they can’t, their season will end on Thursday with a defeat in Game 6.
Here are three tips from tonight’s game.
1. Playoff P has entered the chat
Paul George committed one of the cardinal sins of sport when he gave himself “Playoff P” as a nickname. It’s one thing to struggle in the post-season, but another is when you’ve done everything to tell the world how dominant you are there. The lines flowed like wine as he shot 10 for 47 from the field in the 2-4 Games of the Clippers’ first round series against the Dallas Mavericks. Well, nobody is laughing now.
George left the game with 35 points in the fourth quarter, the Clippers leading by 32. He shot 12 for 18 from the field and 4 for 8 with 3 points. This is what the Clippers need George to be offensive. He has no intention of running the system, but he must execute the hits generated by it. He is a flow player who has struggled to find any kind of rhythm in the last three games. With the Clippers firing on all cylinders and the Mavericks completely ill-equipped to defend them, George should be able to bring some momentum into the second round.
2. Luka Doncic has run out of gas
Few players can disappoint with a performance of 22 points, eight rebounds and four assists, but this is the bar that Luka Doncic has set himself in this series. More distressing, he only shot 6 of 17 from the field. He missed five free throws and five of his six 3-point attempts. The Clippers are responsible for this to some extent. They trapped him in the pick-and-roll much more aggressively than they did earlier in the series after their gearbox failed miserably.
But physically, Doncic wasn’t close to 100 percent. He played on a sprained left ankle in Game 4 and was wonderful at orchestrating an extraordinary upheaval, but if he was just plain tired or if the game aggravated his injury, he spent the night wincing because he couldn’t keep up. with Clipper’s stellar defense. The Mavericks never expected to win this series, especially with Kristaps Porzingis missing so long. But after four games, they had a real chance to advance. If this is how Doncic will be, however, that possibility is gone. It’s not healthy enough to beat the Clippers.
3. Montrezl Harrell is finally coming
The raw stats are impressive, but they don’t tell the whole story. Montrezl Harrell was largely a non-factor in this series. The Clippers were beaten by 46 points in their minutes during their first four games. As much as they like the 19 points and 11 rebounds, they are much more concerned with his 34-point differential.
Harrell was hardly prepared for playoff basketball when this series began. He still has room to grow, but physically the difference was clear. He is able to play the kind of stress games that define his game as much as his attack. The Clippers can get by offensively without Harrell. But the emotional boost he provided with his energy was irreplaceable. It was unmistakably present in Game 5, and that should terrify the Western Conference